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LAPD arrests 9 in immigration march that blocked Westside traffic

May 20, 2010 |  1:18 pm

The Los Angeles Police Department has arrested at least nine demonstrators who blocked Wilshire Boulevard Thursday as part of a immigrant rights march.

The protest jammed traffic in Westwood and surrounding communities, with both Wilshire Boulevard and the 405 Freeway affected. Metro announced that some bus routes were being detoured. California Highway Patrol Lt. Steve Strull said officials want to clear traffic so ambulances headed to Reagan-UCLA Medical Center are not delayed.

Nancy Meza, 23, a UCLA student who is scheduled to graduate in three weeks with a degree in Chicano studies, said the civil disobedience was organized in an effort to push for passage of the Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act, commonly known as the DREAM Act.

The DREAM Act is federal legislation that would provide certain undocumented alien students who graduate from U.S. high schools and have been in the country continuously for at least five years before the bill's enactment the opportunity to earn conditional permanent residency. 

The students would obtain temporary residency for a six-year period. Meza, who said she arrived in the U.S. from Mexico when she was 2 years old and is undocumented, said it was the legislation was needed to ensure that students like herself would eventually be able to work.

“I’m graduating in three weeks, but I can’t even work,” Meza said. “We are urging Sen. Dianne Feinstein [D-Calif.] to push for passage of the DREAM Act this year.”

Officer Krystal Carter, a spokeswoman for the CHP, said the students had been arrested for “failing to disperse…and not complying with police orders.” Carter could not confirm the number of students arrested.

-- Ann M. Simmons and Andrew Blankstein